Banned antibiotics found in chicken feed; ASU researcher behind study

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by Stacey Delikat

azfamily.com

Posted on April 11, 2012 at 6:43 AM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 11 at 7:01 AM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- If you're like most Americans, you probably eat a lot of chicken. But it's what those chickens are eating that has researchers concerned.

Scientists from Arizona State University's Biodesign Institute and John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health teamed up to study what is in common poultry feed, and made a surprising discovery.

They found two-thirds of the samples they tested contained traces of powerful antibiotics, like Cipro, that are banned by the Food and Drug Administration for use in poultry production.

The researchers examined "feather meal," a poultry byproduct made of feathers that is used in most poultry feed.

"It's important to understand what types of chemicals we are using in the food supply," said Rolf Halden, a professor at ASU's Biodesign Institute and co-author of the study. "The concern here is that we breed antibiotic resistance in poultry and at these chicken farms."

Halden says that could mean potential antibiotic resistance in humans down the line.

"This is really a public health issue. We need to protect the efficacy of our antibiotics and we need to make sure they are still working when you have an infection and see your doctor and you get a prescription for antibiotic, that the antibiotic works," Halden said.

Halden says consumers should not panic, as there is no immediate health risk and more research is needed.

The National Chicken Council refuted the findings of the study, saying in a statement:  "As the study’s authors point out, this study looked only at feathers, not meat.  If consumers were to take away one message from the findings, it should be from the researchers themselves: ‘We haven’t found anything that is an immediate health concern.'"
 

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